Good, but nothing exceptional.
Great. Worth purchasing.
Exceptional. A spectacular product.
Some of these products have been sent by their respective manufacturers.
Yu-Be Lip Balm
Yu-Be was founded in 1957 by a pharmacist named Yoshikiyo Nowatari, who invented the brand’s infamous glycerin-based moisturizing cream that is sold to this day. The Yu-Be lip balm follows a similar formula as the cream but adds a number of ingredients like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and aloe vera. I’ve found the lip balm to be fairly effective and like its pine-like smell. It’s worth recommending for mildly dry lips but Burt’s Bees still seem to make the more effective product.
Côte&Ciel Seine Memory Tech
Inspired by the shape of classic bowling bags, the Côte&Ciel Seine is able to carry a 13” MacBook and is surprisingly high capacity thanks to its flexible design. In typical Côte&Ciel fashion, the quality of hardware, stitching and materials all exceptional. It's functional too with plenty of pockets and clever little touches like a detachable key ring. The only complaint I have is with the material of the bag, which Côte&Ciel calls “Memory Tech”, is just a bit too thin and I'm not sold on the wrinkly in appearance. I would personally go with the cheaper Eco Yarn model.
Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire iD
The Air Max 1 Ultra Moire is one the newest models in the Air Max family and is all about the reduction of weight and materials. The shoe features a new outsole that has deep cutouts, reducing material use while increasing flexibility. I noticed the difference in weight immediately and found them to be the most comfortable Air Max model I’ve ever tried. The perforated pattern also makes it my favorite design so far, and looks particularly great on a white shoe. I ordered mine from Nike iD in all white with a silver logo, though in retrospect should’ve made the logo white as well. It’s a classic shape, with a fresh new perforated design and also a major improvement in comfort.
Aēsop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
Aēsop is an Australian skin care brand and make some spectacular products. My hands have been really dry this winter and I ended up with the Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm at an Aēsop store after falling in love with its smell. Its sweet, herbaceous aroma is so good that I find myself applying it even when I don’t need to. It also does a good job of moisturizing while absorbing quickly into the skin without leaving a greasy surface. Best of all, like all Aēsop products, it comes in beautifully graphic packaging.
Muji Skin Care
If you’re looking for tremendous value, nothing comes close to Muji’s skin care lineup. I bought a bottle of lotion out of pure curiosity on a business trip and have been using/recommending Muji skin care products ever since. Their products are divided into three lines differentiated by bottle color; Sensitive (white), Organic (green) and Aging (brown). Muji takes the approach of providing hydration and protection to skincare, which the company says is the root cause of most problems. All of the products provide excellent hydration, don’t leave residue and are extremely mild, which makes them perfect for delicate skin. A 200ml bottle of their standard moisturizing milk is only $10.50 and will last forever. Do yourself a favor and at least try a travel size bottle.
I’m a big fan of matcha and came across hibiki-an.com after looking for a simple way to import the tea from Japan. Hibiki-an operates directly from Kyoto and makes it super easy to buy some of the highest quality tea from the country. Once you try their Pinnacle (30g/$40) and Super Premium (40g/$34) grade matchas from them, you won’t be able to drink anything else. The company also sells a large variety of other teas and accessories like whisks and bowls, making it the perfect one stop shop. International shipping is also free on orders over $36, which seals the deal for me.
Alessi Glass Family Goblet (AJM29/2)
$36 / set of 4
Designed by the infamous contemporary designer, Jasper Morrison, the Family Goblet by Alessi is made from crystal glass. It's an understated, utilitarian interpretation of the wine glass, free of any pretension. Those looking for a more traditional wine glass won’t like the short stem but I like the stability and sense of durability it provides. It’s a product that doesn’t feel precious and is something that you can use everyday. I like that.
Ikea 365+ Series
Most of the stuff Ikea makes is disposable garbage but if you dig deep enough, you can find some fantastic gems. The dinnerware in the Ikea’s 365+ Series are made from feldspar porcelain, are durable and pretty attractive looking as well. I really like the off-white color, lack of ornamentation and the rounded, modern forms. Of course, because they’re so cheap, you can’t expect Alessi or iittala quality but they’re honestly not bad for being just a few dollars each.
Cool Enough Studio
Based out of Seoul, Cool Enough Studio produces a variety of objects from calendars to cushions. Their best seller is Mirror, a compact mirror in a prism-like shape. When the studio reached out to me, I was most fascinated by their calendar called Have A Nice Year, which turns out to unfortunately offer no real-world functionality. It pains me to give anyone a one star review but I had to after trying their hanger, which has the primary functionality of ruining shoulders of clothing. There's simply not enough substance to be had here, and is only made worse when realizing that pricing is also pretty steep considering the lackluster quality and craftsmanship.
As far as rice cookers go, Zojirushi is probably the most famous brand that exists. The NS-YAC10 uses a Micom system (for those new to rice cookers, refer to this post) and is about as nice as they get before you go up to an induction model. The Zojirushi’s logic seems to react well to different water levels and types of rice resulting in perfectly cooked rice every time. There are countless cooking modes but “Umami” is my favorite logic setting. It soaks and steams the rice for an extended period, enhancing its flavor and texture. The only drawback is that it extends the cooking time significantly but I find myself using it whenever I have some time to spare. If you’re looking for a flawless, fuss-free rice cooker, this is as good as it gets. If only Zojirushi would hire better designers. Ugh… look at the terrible typography.
Snow Peak Stainless Double 330 Mug
Snow Peak is a camping gear manufacturer but many of their products end up being used in the home because of their sheer attractiveness. It almost makes it excusable that they call themselves a “natural lifestyle creator". The Stainless Double Mug has a simple shape and has a beautiful mirror finish that reminds me of iPod backs. It has a double-walled design, which does a good job of insulating your drinks, whether it be at a campsite or at home like myself. My favorite touch is how the mug has sharp external edges but rounds inwards, creating a soft surface for your lips.